The way that people spend money changes every year, but the pandemic made the most changes of all. With more and more people working from home, the desire for consumers to go out of their way to find a product or service has dropped dramatically.
Shopping environments, online and in-person, expanded and contracted as a result. Even the way people use credit is different. Consider these changing expectations, and how they affect creditors and small businesses.
In the past few years, the pandemic prompted a significant change in consumer shopping, buying and saving habits. Broad closures of stores and businesses led many people to meet their needs by looking online. As stores began to reopen, they noticed that their customers’ shopping and spending preferences did not return to pre-pandemic norms. Here are some ways that consumer expectations changed.
Omni-Channel Shopping Opportunities
Businesses that want to cast the widest net must catch their target demographic across all platforms, not just one. Although Baby Boomer and Gen X consumers still shop for products in-store and via regular search engines, they are starting to look elsewhere for options. It’s noted that consumers across all age groups are more likely to start at major online retailers when looking for information about a product.
It’s also reported that Gen Z’s rising consumers prefer to find products on social media. Even if shoppers plan to go to a brick-and-mortar store to select and purchase a product, they expect plenty of opportunities to gather more information about it online.
Seamless Hybrid Shopping Experience
Although online shopping increased dramatically during the pandemic, most consumers prefer to keep their options open. While shopping online, scheduling a pickup order, or browsing in the store, consumers expect a seamless shopping experience. They don’t want to contend with systems that make mobile browsing difficult, and they don’t want to deal with clunky, outdated in-person shopping experiences.
From the viewpoint of the business, seamless hybrid shopping experiences start with a consumer’s ability to do as much as possible from home. This might include browsing, making a wish list, purchasing some items, and selecting from a variety of advanced payment methods. When consumers arrive at the store, they expect to find everything they need as easily as they could online, with a checkout process that provides similar simplicity.
Options to Buy Now, Pay Later
Although most consumers do not rely on Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) options for regular purchases, they want the opportunity. BNPL models break the payment into a series of manageable installments, reducing the sting of the initial purchase.
Consumers who might be wary of putting a purchase on a credit card may be more willing to consider installments as a way to pay the debt in a reasonable amount of time. Businesses that partner with BNPL providers can offer such convenience to their consumers, improving the range and type of payment options.
Better Rewards From Loyalty Programs
Post-pandemic consumer loyalty has proven to be a fickle concept, but businesses can make it easier by increasing the types of rewards they offer. Consumers know that businesses use loyalty programs and memberships to track consumer behavior. In exchange, they want a better value.
About three in four consumers use loyalty programs when making purchasing decisions. However, about two in three consumers will cancel their memberships if they feel that they’re not getting enough in the bargain.
How Creditors and Small Businesses Can Meet Modern Expectations
Ultimately, small businesses and creditors alike can benefit from these changing preferences by leaning into consumer convenience and providing services that prevent stress, confusion or hassle.
A seamless online loan management system can allow borrowers to fill out an application in minutes, receive an answer quickly, and be able to start shopping from the convenience of their homes. Small businesses that cater to consumers at home can drive more sales to their websites and in-person stores.
Bradley Tompkins is Chief Information Officer at Vergent LMS, where he oversees the company’s product and technology initiatives. Tompkins has been with Vergent for nearly 10 years. He supervises customer implementations and vendor integrations to help ensure that Vergent’s platform is consistently performing at a high level for all users and partners.
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